The Folk-Lore Journal/Volume 7/Wexford Folklore

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THE following legends have been culled from George Griffith's Chronicles of the County Wexford.

Shagh Eneen Eee or the Seven Daughters of Hugh.—These seven girls were born at one birth at the well of Ballybrennan, which has miraculous powers, and, according to the legend, "wherein young languishing infants being bathed, have undeniably, by the Divine clemency, been miraculously restored to perfect health and strength."

Magpies.—The first English settlement was in the baronies of Forth and Bargy, or south-east Wexford; the inhabitants of which have many of their customs and language at the present day similar to those in East Anglia. The first magpies that came to Ireland, a flock of twelve, landed here, from whence they spread over Ireland. An old saying, but now nearly obsolete, is "Ireland will never be rid of the English while the magpie remains." That is, the English and the magpies both, when they first came, landed in the same part of Ireland, and one cannot be got rid of except both go.

Burials near Enniscorthy.—Three families—Traceys, Doyles, and Daly—until recent years buried their dead peculiarly. The graves were dug six feet deep, and long enough to suit the corpse. At each end was built a stone wall, about two feet high, this space being lined with sods over seven feet long, procured from the meadows of the Slany. The body was brought in a coffin, out of which it was taken and lowered into its green receptacle; after which, from wall to wall, were placed planks, the latter being covered by another long sod, the green side downwards; the grave was then filled up, the coffin being left in the graveyard. The last interment of this kind was of the body of John Doyle of Craan; since which the members of these different families have been buried in coffins. "No tradition of the origin of the custom now survives."

[It may here be mentioned, that in graveyards on the coast of Kerry, the corpse seem to have been enveloped in sea-shells. At Ballinskelligs there is an ancient burial-ground now being gradually removed by the sea; and from what can be seen, it would appear as if the corpse never had a coffin, but had been laid in a bed of shells and then covered by the same. In an ancient graveyard at Mr. Kilbee's, co. Kildare, the corpse seems to have been enveloped in teeth, seemingly of sheep, goats, and cattle.]

Sacred Wells.—Of the innumerable sacred wells, among the most famous are the pool of Siloah in Jerusalem, the fountains of Aganippe and Castalia, and of the Maya country in Yucatan. In the deserts of the orient, almost every well or fountain is considered a special gift of God to deliver humanity and the animal creation I the Greeks and Romans thought that nymphs and male genii presided over them, and coins of money or beads were thrown into their waters as a sacrifice. In hot countries an abundant well is considered doubly beneficial, especially when it has healing properties. A sacred well of the Zuñis is figured in one of Lieut. Whipple's volumes on the Pacific Kailroad Expedition (vol. iii., Port Thord, opposite page 44).

The buffalo-hunting Indians of the western prairies have been for long ages acquainted with a curious well near Salomon river,[1] in the western part of Kansas. It is situated on the top of a hill, about a quarter-mile from the above river, and has a nearly circular form with about thirty feet diameter. The Pa'ni Indians call it Kītch-Wa'lushti, the Omahas Ni-Waxube, both names signifying "sacred water." This deep pool is considered to be bottomless, and to harbour an aquatic monster which engulfs all the objects thrown into the water, and never sends them up again. The Indians offer to it beads, arrows, kerchiefs, earrings, even blankets, and all of this sinks straight down. Visiting Indians never drink the water of this pool, but, to allay their thirst, go to the neighbouring Salomon creek. When a large number of people stands around the pool, the water, which is perfectly limpid, begins to rise. Sometimes, before putting clay or paint on their faces, the Indians impregnate these substances with the water of the well. Before buffalo-hunting became a thing of the past, large hunting-parties of natives often gathered about this pool or pond-source, and the following incident was circulating among them : Two Panis once returned home with their horses. Having dismounted in the vicinity of the "sacred water," one Páni stepped on a turtle of the large species frequently found there (about three feet long) ; it stuck to him ; he could not disengage himself from its shell ; and when the turtle ran with its charge into the pool, the Indian was drowned. His companion, however, escaped to tell the tale.

A. S. G.

  1. Salomon river runs in a south-eastern direction, and joins Kansas, or Kaw, river at Abile-ne, Kansas